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Full text of "Verdict On India"

LOOSE £KDS                                          229
to ran ui the lace of religious sentiment to the extent of having
numbers of these unhappy creatures put out of their agony.
In Mysore city it is the same tale—hospitals, research institutes,
schools of arts and crafts—instead of being few and far between,
they crowd together. And when you leave the city and drive out
into the country, you drive on broad well-surfaced roads through
fields of abundance. As far as the eye can see stretch fertile acres,
plentifully nourished by an immense irrigation system. When you
leave the road, and set off on foot, the villages through which you
pass are—for India—almost clean. It is necessary to make this
qualification : the word 'clean * in India has a very different inter-
pretation from the word "clean' in any other councry.
* These signs and portents'—you may suggest—"are only the
casual impressions of a tourist. It would still be possible, behind
this pleasing facade, for autocracy and oppression, to flourish in
their most odious forms/
That is possible, but it does not happen to be the case.
In the sphere of government we find the same high level, both
iix theory and in practice. To sneer at Mysore's representative
institutions merely because the executive is not fully responsible
to the legislature is as foolish as to deny all merit to the House of
Lords. In theory, the House of Lords is not easily defensible (a
number of admirable institutions in many countries have no
theoretical justification), but in practice, at least to-day, it serves
a valuable purpose. And although, in, Mysore, the executive is
in somewhat the same position as was the House of Lords at the
beginning of the present century, it rarely ventures to cross swords
with the popularly elected legislature, which is conscious of its
power.
Any man who assumes that democracy cannot live or flourish
in the atmosphere of an Indian State should disabuse himself of
this illusion by studying the debates of the Mysore Legislative
Council; few democratic assemblies could rival the high quality
x>f their eloquence nor the ample reserves of their common, sense.
Just before I arrived in the State there had been; heated discussions
4u the Council concerning the Collective Pines Bill, a measure
which aimed, as its title suggests, at imposing a collective fii^e on
all the inhabitants of those villages which had been concerned in